NBA watching Lillard, Harden trade demands as season nears
NEW YORK – With NBA season openers barely a month away, the league is watching trade demand situations by Portland’s Damian Lilliard and Philadelphia’s James Harden and waiting for solutions to develop.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed those and other issues on Wednesday after a meeting of team owners, saying he didn’t like the standoff situations that have lingered for months.
“In terms of trade demands, don’t like them,” Silver said. “As a league, we want players and teams to honor their contracts.
“I’m watching both the situation in Portland and Philadelphia and hope they get worked out to the satisfaction of everyone before the season starts. I’m glad that things seem to have settled down somewhat at least in terms of public discourse.”
Both Harden and Lillard have made no secret of a desire to be traded. Lillard has indicated he wants a deal to the Miami Heat while Harden has said he felt betrayed that the 76ers have not managed to move him after he picked up a $35.6 million contract option to stay with Philly, a deal reportedly falling through with the Los Angeles Clippers.
A new NBA collective bargaining agreement has made it tougher to create teams with multiple big-name stars, although the Phoenix Suns have made off-season strides by landing Bradley Beal to join Devin Booker and Kevin Durant.
“We love super teams as long as they’re formed in a way that seems competitively fair across the league,” Silver said. “Smart drafting, smart trades, et cetera, as opposed to one team has the ability to spend an enormous amount more than another team does.”
Silver said he has no problem with a team using rules during a transition into tighter regulations to stockpile talent, provided they are willing to pay the salary tax for exceeding payroll limits.
“I’m sure we’ll see with these new provisions, once they fully kick in, we’ll have a better sense of how effective they are and maybe have to go back to the table to see if we can do a better job,” Silver said.
Energy is success sign
The NBA will launch an In-Season Tournament in November and December based upon European football league cup events, with Silver saying on-court energy from players will be an early measure of success.
“I think it is a multi-season issue,” Silver said. “New traditions aren’t created overnight. So I think this, it will need to build over time.”
But Silver said on-court intensity will show if it’s working even as the NBA will examine such measures as attendance compared to typical regular-season contests, television ratings and social media interest.
“Something that will be a little less tangible is a sense of the energy on the floor,” Silver said.
“If you watch 30 seconds of a game you can tell the difference, for the most part, between playoff games and regular-season games. They’re played with a different sense of intensity.
“If we’re seeing early indications of success, you’re going to see something a little bit ratcheted-up intensity than you see during a typical regular-season game. I think that will be a sign of success.”
The NBA will tweak as needed to improve the product, Silver said.
“My sense is we’re very happy where it stands right now,” he said. “I’m sure we’re going to learn a lot once it starts so I wouldn’t be surprised if, when we go through it, we make a decision to make a few changes along the way.”
Silver also said that the league continues to gather information in the case of Houston guard Kevin Porter Jr., who faces assault and strangulation charges in what could violate NBA domestic violence policy regulations.
“The allegations here are horrific. No question about it. But I don’t know anything more,” Silver aid.
The league has more time to examine details and investigate the incident because training camps have not yet opened, Silver said.
“We’re still now in the process of gathering information,” he said.